Brock used turning and topping off his cup of chai to hide his expression from his twin and her observant new partner. He could feel their gazes like a pair of laser beams drilling into his back. His mind racing, Brock decided how much he could tell them.
He also wondered how he could shield from his sister to prevent her from discovering more. She could easily pick up things from the connection between them. He could only do it when they were touching. He understood their powers were different and balanced, but it bugged him how much better Belinda’s skill was. Perhaps he could get her to shield instead of him?
Realizing the solution to his dilemma, Brock took a long sip before turning. He strolled back to the table and a finger moved the crude sketch of the dagger.
“Who did this? It’s awful.”
“Probably not an artist up to your standards,” Belinda commented, rolling her eyes. “What do you know about it?”
“That I can draw you one better,” he informed them.
“And where have you seen it?” Jon asked.
The other man’s voice rumbled, low and strong. Brock’s gaze met the hard stare of the cop. Nothing submissive showed in the flat brown depths and he wondered if he had been wrong.
Brock hated being wrong.
He ignored the disappointment welling deep in his belly. The other man’s earlier submissive manner could have just been an attempt to downplay his huge size. Brock knew other people’s reaction to it, seeing it first-hand many times.
Of course, the other possibility was that Jon only played in the bedroom; a normally dominant man that chose to give control when the whim, or the right master, appealed to him. That idea caused Brock’s cock to twitch in his pants.
Belinda’s snort broke the stare off between him and her new partner.
“TMI,” she told him.
“What? He hasn’t told us anything,” Jon protested.
Brock smirked; secretly glad his twin had only read his lustful musings and nothing more.
He gestured to the bench. “I’ll talk while I work.”
Belinda glared at him and he blandly returned the look. He had already wiped it down earlier, knowing he was going to tat, but not who. Belinda’s appearance actually surprised him. She refused to be under his needle while they disagreed on matters. His fingers itched to put his mark and magic on her skin. It let him protect her and she resented that he felt that she needed it.
Nope, not his lone wolf, tough cop baby sister. Belinda wanted to prove she could stand on her own without her family and coven supporting her.
She stood, her chair scraping on the hardwood floor. Belinda stalked to the bench, everything in her manner proclaiming that she agreed under duress and only because she needed his help.
Brock ignored her attitude. As her big brother by seven minutes, it was his duty and right to protect her. Besides, he really wanted to see his design on the canvas of her skin.
Jon spoke up. “Do we really have time for this?”
“Trust me, it will be easier in the long run,” Belinda assured her new partner.
“Yes, I do like getting my own way,” Brock purred.
Belinda peeled off her shirt knowing that Brock wanted her back. While her black lacy bra was revealed he reached back to braid his hair out of the way. This caused his sweater to ride up again. An intent brown gaze examined his treasure trail and the flat plane of his belly, ignoring the curves of his sister’s breasts.
Brock might be wrong about whether Jon possessed submissive qualities, but the evidence proved the other man definitely like his own sex. With him at least being partly right about Jon and his sister needing his help, Brock’s morning was improving.
“Gloating is such a shallow emotion,” Belinda informed him.
He sat on his stool and rolled it closer; bringing his tray holding his gun along. Brock smoothed his palm along his waiting canvas, and ignored Belinda watching him over her shoulder from her now prone position.
“Yes, it is,” Brock agreed, smirking. It changed to a deliberately concerned expression. “So, how are you adjusting to a new partner?”
He accompanied the question with a slight mental nudge and hid his pleased reaction when her mental shields slid into place. He could almost ‘hear’ the echo of a clang. This was exactly what he hoped for. With her shields solidly up to block Brock she hampered her own ability to read his thoughts.
Now he could discuss the daggers and not worry about his twin discovering more than he wanted to reveal at this time.
Brock glanced at Jon and nodded his head towards the sofa. The studio ran the length of the brownstone with his drafting table near the front window to take advantage of the natural light. The middle part of the room held the discussion table and kitchenette and at the other end his chair also sat in spilled sunlight from the windows overlooking his back garden. Positioned close by Brock had placed a comfy sofa for his client’s companions. Seldom did one get a tattoo alone.
He watched with open pleasure as the larger man moved with fluid grace. A sharp punch on his upper thigh, too close to the proximity of his groin for comfort, reminded him of his waiting sister.
“Spill,” she informed him.
Ignoring her prompt, he cleaned the area with liquid soap and warm water before shaving it. He used a little pink disposable razor and then swabbed with alcohol. Pushing up the sleeves of his sweater, he felt Jon’s gaze on the colorful ink adorning his wrists and forearms.
Drawing the outline of his design on her skin Brock began. “There are several daggers that form a set.”
“We know that, Jolly.”
He frowned at Belinda. She didn’t need to refer to him by her personal nickname, ‘The Jolly Green Giant,’ in front of company.
“There are six of them. Five are identical. They look like the drawing, which is crappy, by the way. I’ll draw you a better one.”
“And just how do you know how it looks?” Jon repeated.
Brock grinned at the other man. Already he loved the low, growly tone Jon used sometimes.
“Wilfrieda is a member of the Madison Historical Society. As the oldest object in her small collection she’s shown it off to other members. She’s only had it less than a year. You’ll need it.”
“We should be getting the insurance photos any time now,” Belinda interjected.
“And they will be blurred or fuzzy; you know how magical items don’t want to be recorded by ‘modern means.’ Something will be wrong with them,” Brock reminded her.
Belinda remanded silent while Jon gave a disbelieving grunt. It seemed the practical detective did not ‘believe.’ Brock ignored the other man’s reaction. He examined the designed drawn on the smooth skin of his sister’s shoulder. He free-handed it, preferring not to use transfer paper this time, like he usually did. The sketches he labored over right before their arrival, now abandoned on his work table, were still fresh in his mind.
“Mirror. You likey?”
Belinda glanced over her shoulder to look at the scarab crouched on her left shoulder using the mirror placed on the ceiling for that purpose. Now she grunted, but Brock knew she hid her pleasure.
“No ink,” she cautioned him.
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not using up my canvas so soon. I’ve got years worth of art waiting.”
“I know,” he retorted in true sibling fashion.
“It’s a bug,” Jon announced, interrupting their squabbling.
Brock blinked. The flowing lines of the scarab, the ancient Egyptian symbol for rebirth and protection, were so much more than a ‘bug.’ He did not appreciate the criticism of his choice or skill by the ignorant. A tense silence filled the spacious room after Jon spoke.
Jezebel’s plaintive meow broke it as the cat door flap swung shut behind her entrance. Her paws making soft patting sounds on the hardwood floor, she traversed the length of the long room to join them.
Her amber eyes begged as she circled and danced where she stopped nearby. Brock had trained her not to approach his actual work space and compromise the sterile setting. Her need to greet Belinda threatened those ingrained teachings.
Belinda crooned and Brock sighed and rolled away. His sister moved and ended up sitting on the floor, an ecstatic tortoise-shell feline in her lap. He grabbed the pot and topped off his mug and then moved to do the same for Jon. His mugs were oversized, painted and glazed by a fellow artist, but appeared tiny when cradled in the other man’s huge hands.
He wondered what they would feel like on his skin, warm and rough. He crowded close to the detective, letting his legs press against Jon’s while he purposely loomed over him. Brock wanted to straddle those thick thighs and sink down to sit on that large lap. To discover if the loose folds of the other man’s dress slacks hid a growing erection that would feel wonderful pressed against his ass.
“So, is Gilberto Balistreri also a member of the Historical Society?” his sister asked, interrupting his private fantasy.
Brock gave Jon a last smoldering look before backing away. The detective hurriedly sipped and gasped, the fresh chai hot and scalding. Brock added more to his sister’s mug before returning the pot to the warming plate.
After returning to his stool he answered her question. “Yes, Gilbert is always trying to impress Gran with his knowledge, as if making up for his lack of magic.” Brock frowned. “But, lately he’s been flirting with Wilfrieda. I thought he just gave up on the old bird and switched to a more obtainable objective.”
Belinda returned to her spot on the bench despite Jezebel’s plaintive sounds. Brock watched his pet notice an empty lap and make a bee line for it. The grunt Jon made as she leapt and landed on his groin make Brock wince.
“Sorry, I hope you like cats,” Brock commented.
“Have one of my own.” Jon’s fingers scratched under Jezebel’s chin and she began purring for him.
Ohhhh, did this man get better and better, Brock thought. He watched the detective’s large, calloused palm stroke the long, multicolored fur, almost envious of his pet. He felt his sister’s shields tighten against him and hid his smirk.
“Did you know that Mr. Balistreri also owned a dagger?”
That brought Brock’s attention back to the reason of their visit. “No, and I can’t believe that he never showed it off to Gran. So they both have been stolen and that drawing is of the esteemed Miss Greenlee’s dagger?”
“Perhaps your grandmother knew and chose not to share that information with you?” Jon said.
Both twins gave him a disbelieving look.
“I’m her favorite. She tells me everything. Even stuff I don’t want to hear about,” Brock clarified.
His sister grunted her agreement.
“Are they both okay?” He couldn’t believe he forgot to ask until now.
“Both slick jobs while the owners were away, only the pugs were scared,” Belinda replied.
“Well, the ‘boys’ do have delicate sensibilities.” Brock continued in a more serious vein. “Celtic legends claim that the daggers were a sword broken down, melted and re-smithed into the set. That’s why the last one to be found will be different, it is the original hilt.”
He picked up the gun and checked the depth of the needle’s penetration. Since no ink needed to be deposited below the epidermal level the taps would be shallower. Brock bent over, the familiar hum comforting him. He started the outline of the sacred beetle as he continued to talk. Pink dots bloomed where his needles tapped.
“Is the sword evil?” Jon asked.
Brock hid his grin. For someone that didn’t believe in magic the possibility of an inanimate object being evil revealed a lot.
“No, it just bestows power. Some claim that it is a soul sword, Gran might know more.”
Belinda knew better than to sigh under his gun, but he could hear it in her voice. “Could you ask her next time you see her?”
“Oh, as a favor to you?”
Jon answered instead of his sister. “No, as a favor to the Madison Police Department. Unless you believe my questioning her would provide more results?”
Brock’s mind boggled at the idea of his grandmother being hauled in and put in one of those little rooms with the one-way mirrors. He knew his mental images were an exaggeration, based on the cop shows he and his twin watched growing up with Uncle Matt. He wondered if Gran’s one allowed phone call would be to him or the governor.
~Move the gun~ his sister advised, her voice a whisper in his mind.
His hand lifted as Belinda’s body convulsed with giggles. He couldn’t help joining her as Jon glowered at them. Somehow that made it funnier.
Wiping the tears streaming from his eyes, Brock realized how long it had been since he heard her laugh. Too long.
He wiped the skin one last time before framing the area with his fingers and pushing. Gently breathing on it, Brock said the incantation silently as the blood welled up.
“Done,” he told Belinda, leaning back.
She studied in the overhead mirror the outlined scarab formed of blood drops. They gleamed like tiny rubies on her back. She smiled at the result.
“And, yes, I will chat with Gran,” Brock volunteered.
When his sister’s smile extended to include him at his offer, Brock knew that this case would be the bridge rebuilt between them. He hoped the information he hid for now didn’t jeopardize that fragile foundation.